Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies,
And that seek him with the whole heart.
3 They also do no iniquity:
They walk in his ways.
4 Thou hast commanded us
To keep thy precepts diligently.
5 O that my ways were directed
To keep thy statutes!
6 Then shall I not be ashamed,
When I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart,
When I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
8 I will keep thy statutes:
O forsake me not utterly.
9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee:
O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart,
That I might not sin against thee.
12 Blessed art thou, O LORD:
Teach me thy statutes.
13 With my lips have I declared
All the judgments of thy mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate in thy precepts,
And have respect unto thy ways.
16 I will delight myself in thy statutes:
I will not forget thy word.
17 Deal bountifully with thy servant,
That I may live, and keep thy word.
18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold
Wondrous things out of thy law.
19 I am a stranger in the earth:
Hide not thy commandments from me.
20 My soul breaketh for the longing
That it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed,
Which do err from thy commandments.
22 Remove from me reproach and contempt;
For I have kept thy testimonies.
23 Princes also did sit and speak against me:
But thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
24 Thy testimonies also are my delight,
And my counsellors.
25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust:
Quicken thou me according to thy word.
26 I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me:
Teach me thy statutes.
27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts:
So shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
28 My soul melteth for heaviness:
Strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
29 Remove from me the way of lying:
And grant me thy law graciously.
30 I have chosen the way of truth:
Thy judgments have I laid before me.
31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies:
O LORD, put me not to shame.
32 I will run the way of thy commandments,
When thou shalt enlarge my heart.
33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes;
And I shall keep it unto the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law;
Yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments;
For therein do I delight.
36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity;
And quicken thou me in thy way.
38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant,
Who is devoted to thy fear.
39 Turn away my reproach which I fear:
For thy judgments are good.
40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts:
Quicken me in thy righteousness.
41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD,
Even thy salvation, according to thy word.
42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me:
For I trust in thy word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth;
For I have hoped in thy judgments.
44 So shall I keep thy law continually
Forever and ever.
45 And I will walk at liberty:
For I seek thy precepts.
46 I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings,
And will not be ashamed.
47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments,
Which I have loved.
48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved;
And I will meditate in thy statutes.
49 Remember the word unto thy servant,
Upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction:
For thy word hath quickened me.
51 The proud have had me greatly in derision:
Yet have I not declined from thy law.
52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD:
And have comforted myself.
53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked
That forsake thy law.
54 Thy statutes have been my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.
55 I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night,
And have kept thy law.
56 This I had,
Because I kept thy precepts.
57 Thou art my portion, O LORD:
I have said that I would keep thy words.
58 I entreated thy favor with my whole heart:
Be merciful unto me according to thy word.
59 I thought on my ways,
And turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
60 I made haste, and delayed not
To keep thy commandments.
61 The bands of the wicked have robbed me:
But I have not forgotten thy law.
62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee
Because of thy righteous judgments.
63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee,
And of them that keep thy precepts.
64 The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy:
Teach me thy statutes.
65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant,
O LORD, according unto thy word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge:
For I have believed thy commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray
But now have I kept thy word.
68 Thou art good, and doest good:
Teach me thy statutes.
69 The proud have forged a lie against me:
But I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
70 Their heart is as fat as grease:
But I delight in thy law.
71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I might learn thy statutes.
72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me
Than thousands of gold and silver.
73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me:
Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me;
Because I have hoped in thy word.
75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right,
And that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
76 Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to thy word unto thy servant.
77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live:
For thy law is my delight.
78 Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause:
But I will meditate in thy precepts.
79 Let those that fear thee turn unto me,
And those that have known thy testimonies.
80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes;
That I be not ashamed.
81 My soul fainteth for thy salvation:
But I hope in thy word.
82 Mine eyes fail for thy word,
Saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
83 For I am become like a bottle in the smoke;
Yet do I not forget thy statutes.
84 How many are the days of thy servant?
When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?
85 The proud have digged pits for me,
Which are not after thy law.
86 All thy commandments are faithful:
They persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
87 They had almost consumed me upon earth;
But I forsook not thy precepts.
88 Quicken me after thy loving-kindness;
So shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
89 Forever, O LORD,
Thy word is settled in heaven.
90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations:
Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances:
For all are thy servants.
92 Unless thy law had been my delights,
I should then have perished in mine affliction.
93 I will never forget thy precepts:
For with them thou hast quickened me.
94 I am thine, save me;
For I have sought thy precepts.
95 The wicked have waited for me to destroy me:
But I will consider thy testimonies.
96 I have seen an end of all perfection:
But thy commandment is exceeding broad.
97 O how love I thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies:
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers:
For thy testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep thy precepts.
101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way,
That I might keep thy word.
102 I have not departed from thy judgments:
For thou hast taught me.
103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.
104 Through thy precepts I get understanding.
Therefore I hate every false way
105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
And a light unto my path.
106 I have sworn, and I will perform it,
That I will keep thy righteous judgments.
107 I am afflicted very much:
Quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD,
And teach me thy judgments.
109 My soul is continually in my hand:
Yet do I not forget thy law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me:
Yet I erred not from thy precepts.
111 Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever:
For they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes
Always, even unto the end.
113 I hate vain thoughts:
But thy law do I love.
114 Thou art my hiding-place and my shield:
I hope in thy word.
115 Depart from me, ye evil doers:
For I will keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live:
And let me not be ashamed of my hope.
117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe:
And I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
118 Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes:
For their deceit is falsehood.
119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross:
Therefore I love thy testimonies.
120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee;
And I am afraid of thy judgments.
121 I have done judgment and justice:
Leave me not to mine oppressors.
122 Be surety for thy servant for good:
Let not the proud oppress me.
123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation,
And for the word of thy righteousness.
124 Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy,
And teach me thy statutes.
125 I am thy servant; give me understanding,
That I may know thy testimonies.
126 It is time for thee, LORD, to work:
For they have made void thy law.
127 Therefore I love thy commandments
Above gold; yea, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right:
And I hate every false way.
129 Thy testimonies are wonderful:
Therefore doth my soul keep them.
130 The entrance of thy words giveth light;
It giveth understanding unto the simple.
131 I opened my mouth, and panted:
For I longed for thy commandments.
132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me,
As thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
133 Order my steps in thy word:
And let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Deliver me from the oppression of man:
So will I keep thy precepts.
135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant;
And teach me thy statutes.
136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes,
Because they keep not thy law.
137 Righteous art thou, O LORD,
And upright are thy judgments.
138 Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous
And very faithful.
139 My zeal hath consumed me,
Because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
140 Thy word is very pure:
Therefore thy servant loveth it.
141 I am small and despised:
Yet do not I forget thy precepts.
142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And thy law is the truth.
143 Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me:
Yet thy commandments are my delights.
144 The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting.
Give me understanding, and I shall live.
145 I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD:
I will keep thy statutes.
146 I cried unto thee; save me,
And I shall keep thy testimonies.
147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried:
I hoped in thy word.
148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches,
That I might meditate in thy word.
149 Hear my voice according unto thy loving-kindness:
O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.
150 They draw nigh that follow after mischief:
They are far from thy law.
151 Thou art near, O LORD;
And all thy commandments are truth.
152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old
That thou hast founded them forever.
153 Consider mine affliction, and deliver me:
For I do not forget thy law.
154 Plead my cause, and deliver me:
Quicken me according to thy word.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked:
For they seek not thy statutes.
156 Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD:
Quicken me according to thy judgments.
157 Many are my persecutors and mine enemies;
Yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.
158 I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved;
Because they kept not thy word.
159 Consider how I love thy precepts:
Quicken me, O LORD, according to thy loving-kindness.
160 Thy word is true from the beginning:
And every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.
161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause:
But my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
162 I rejoice at thy word,
As one that findeth great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor lying:
But thy law do I love.
164 Seven times a day do I praise thee,
Because of thy righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have they which love thy law:
And nothing shall offend them.
166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation,
And done thy commandments.
167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies;
And I love them exceedingly.
168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies:
For all my ways are before thee.
169 Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD:
Give me understanding according to thy word.
170 Let my supplication come before thee:
Deliver me according to thy word.
171 My lips shall utter praise,
When thou hast taught me thy statutes.
172 My tongue shall speak of thy word:
For all thy commandments are righteousness.
173 Let thine hand help me;
For I have chosen thy precepts.
174 I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD;
And thy law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and it shall praise thee;
And let thy judgments help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep: seek thy servant;
For I do not forget thy commandments.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
CONTENTS AND COMPOSITION.—The Christian’s golden A B C of the praise and love of the power and profit of the word of God. This title in the German Bible admirably expresses the character of this Psalm. For in all the 176 verses there is no other subject introduced than the excellence of God’s word, in its blessed influences and obligations. The Psalm is so disposed that every one of the eight verses in each division begins with the same letter, and these letters follow in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. And it was scarcely without design that in every verse, with the exception of Psalm 119:122, occurs one of the ten expressions usually employed to designate the law, and that the name Jehovah occurs in the whole 22 times, though not once in every verse.
The carrying out of this artificial plan through such a long series of verses with great comparative simplicity, has not only occasioned many repetitions, with but slight changes in expression and shades of thought, but has made it questionable whether there can be any internal structural connection or progress of thought. It is certainly saying too much to maintain that there is no connection whatever (De Wette) and to designate the Psalm as the most monotonous and barren in thought of all aphoristic collections and a specimen of the trifling of later times (Hupfeld), or a mnemonic book of devotion (Köster), at the same time denying any reference to a special situation or mental posture of the author. But even if the notion be abandoned that there is any regularity of plan, or any inner progress of thought (Hengst.), the Psalm is, at all events, not a collection of apophthegms, but is evidently a Psalm of supplication composed not by an old man (Ewald), but, according to Psalm 119:9f., 99, 100, by a young man (Del.), who prays, particularly after Psalm 119:84, for steadfastness in the midst of great trouble, surrounded by evil men and persecutors. Yet it must be allowed that, along with the praise of God’s word and law, which is repeated almost like a refrain, there are interwoven prayers for enlightenment to understand them, and strength to be faithful to them, intermingled here and there with complaints, promises, and hopes, and also with supplications for Divine assistance against mighty and crafty oppressors and persecutors. All these occur so frequently that it is unadvisable to limit the connection of thought to a narrow range.
Whether the author was in imprisonment, and shortened the time by thus weaving together his complaints and comforting thoughts (Hitzig, Del.) cannot be known with any degree of certainty. The same remark applies to the time of composition and the person of the composer. It is only certain that the Poet did not speak for the Jewish people (Rudinger), and that the Psalm is to be reckoned among the latest of the whole collection (Ewald). Some of the older commentators have assigned it to a Jew living in captivity among the Syrians (Sylloge commentt. theoll. ed. Pott. I., p. 314 ff.). There is also something to be said in favor of referring it to the period of Grecian rule, under which the government was unfriendly, and a large party among the Jews themselves, who favored the government, persecuted the pronounced professors of the Thora (Del.). If we go down to the time of the Maccabees, an historical connection is presented with the imprisonment of Jonathan, 1 Macc. 12:48 (Hitzig). But the closing period of the Persian supremacy affords the contrasts presented here, between a worldly government, hostile to the religion of Jehovah and the Divine dominion revealed in the Law; between that party of presumptuous blasphemers, who appear as national enemies, and the pious worshippers of Jehovah; between disloyal, unfaithful, covenant-breaking Jews, and the friends of the Law, whose companion the Poet is (Ehrt, Abfassungszeit und Abschluss des Psalters, p. 191).
Delitzsch gives the inner progress of thought through the several strophes as follows: After the Poet has praised fidelity to God’s word (1), and characterized it as the virtue of all virtues, which is a blessing to the young, and which he himself labors to gain (2), he prays, in the midst of scornful and persecuting companions, for the mercies of enlightenment (3), of strengthening (4), of preservation (5), of suitable and joyful profession of his faith (6); God’s word is the object of his striving and aspirations (7), he loves the friendship of those who fear God (8), and, though recognizing the salutary influences of his humiliation (9), is yet in need of consolation (10), and sighs: how long! (11). Without the immovable and mighty word of God he would despond (12); it is his wisdom in situations of distress (13); he has sworn to be faithful to it, and in persecution remains faithful (14); he abhors and despises the faithless; he is oppressed, but God will not leave him under oppression (16), or permit a godless conduct, which forces rivers of tears from his eyes, to prevail over him (17), over him who is small (youthful) and despised, whom zeal, on account of the prevailing forgetfulness of God, is consuming (18); he entreats that God might hear his crying by day and by night (19), might soon revive him with His helpful compassion (20), as he remains firm in his fidelity to God, though persecuted by princes (21), and seek the lamb, that was separated from the flock and exposed to such dangers (22).—This is, at least, a guiding thread in the efforts which are necessary to connect the several strophes. The sections are then more or less individualized in their single verses.
[Hengstenberg, holding the view given above under his name, sums up the contents of the Psalm thus: “The praise of God’s word, the assertion that it is the infinitely sure way of salvation, and the only comfort in suffering, the determination to be faithful to God’s word and law, prayer for the spiritual understanding of the law, and for strength to fulfil it, and supplications for the salvation promised in it, form the contents of this Psalm.” With reference to the stand-point of the author, Hengstenberg considers it entirely national, referring to Psalm 119:23, 46, 87, with which he compares Ps. 115:14, and Psalm 119:161. He therefore considers large portions of it, which appear to represent only individual feelings, as bearing a hortatory character. But the true view appears to me to be that of Alexander: “There is no Psalm in the whole collection which has more the appearance of having been exclusively designed for practical and personal improvement, without any reference to national or even to ecclesiastical relations than the one before us.” After citing some of Hengstenberg’s arguments for the opposite view, he continues: “The opinion that the ideal speaker throughout this Psalm is Israel, considered as the Church or chosen people, will never commend itself as natural or likely to the mass of readers, and is scarcely consistent with such passages as Psalm 119:63, 74, 79, and others, where the speaker expressly distinguishes himself from the body of the people. The same difficulty, in a less degree, attends the national interpretation of the Psalms immediately preceding. Perhaps the best mode of reconciling the two views is by supposing that this Psalm was intended as a manual of pious and instructive thoughts, designed for popular improvement, and especially for that of the younger generation, after the return from exile, and that the person speaking is the individual believer, not as an isolated personality, but as a member of the general body, with which he identifies himself so far, that many expressions of the Psalm are strictly applicable only to the whole as such considered, while others are appropriate only to certain persons or to certain classes in the ancient Israel. To this design of popular instruction, and especially to that of constant repetition and reflection, the Psalm is admirably suited by its form and structure. The alphabetical arrangement, of which it is at once the most extended and the most perfect specimen, and the aphoristic character, common to all alphabetic Psalms, are both adapted to assist the memory as well as to give point to the immediate impression. It follows, of course, that the Psalm was rather meant to be a storehouse of materials for pious meditation, than a discourse for continuous perusal.” On this last question Perowne also agrees with most commentators, against the opinion of Delitzsch that there is a continuity of thought in the Psalm.
On the opinion of Delitzsch and Ewald, referred to above, with regard to the period of the author’s life at the time of the composition, Perowne argues: “The language of ver 9 is rather that of one, who looking back on his own past life, draws the inference, which he seeks to impress upon the young, that youthful purity can only be preserved by those, who from early years take God’s word as their guide. When it is said in Psalm 119:99, 100 that the Psalmist is wiser than his teachers, wiser than the aged, the only conclusion that can be drawn is, that he is not advanced in life. It is plain that the writer is not an old man, as Ewald would have us believe, or he would not compare his knowledge of the law with the knowledge of the aged. But it does not follow that he is a young man. The teachers whom he had outstript may have been those, whose disciple he once was, not those whose disciple he still is, or he may refer to authorized teachers, to whom he listened because they taught in Moses’ seat, though he felt that they had really nothing to teach him. Indeed the whole strain of the Psalm, its depth and breadth of spiritual life, and the long acquaintance, which is everywhere implied in it, with the word of God, can leave us no doubt that it was written by a man who was no longer young, who had at least reached ‘the middle arch of life.’ ”
The spiritual worth and beauty of the Psalm are not impaired by its artificial form. “If we would fathom the depth of meaning in the written law of Israel: if we would measure the elevation of soul, the hope, the confidence, even before princes and kings, which pious Jews derived from it, we must turn to this Psalm. Here is an epitome of all true religion as conceived by the best spirits of that time. To such a loving study and meditation on the law, the alphabetical arrangement is not inappropriate, and if the poem be necessarily somewhat cramped, it is nevertheless pervaded by the glow of love, and abounds in spiritual life.” (The Psalms Chronologically Arranged by Four Friends, p. 385; quoted by Perowne). See also an estimate of its spiritual teaching in Edwards on the Religious Affections, Part III. Sec. 3.—J. F. M.].
Aleph. Psalm 119:1–4. This Psalm in accordance with the more extended treatment of its topics, has a double ascription of blessedness, instead of the single one in Ps. 1:1; 112:1. The præterites, mingled as they are with futures in the sense of the present, express the constancy of the relation described.—[The rendering of Psalm 119:1a, in E. V. is not sufficiently perspicuous. The literal translation is: Blessed are those who are blameless in their ways. Its rendering of Psalm 119:4 is also incorrect, neglecting the division of the verse according to the accents. It should be: Thou hast enjoined thy precepts; to observe them diligently. The explanation follows.—J. F. M.]. In Psalm 119:4b, the design in enjoining the precepts is given, with the implication that their observance is as earnestly enjoined, as it is difficult to practise.
Psalm 119:5–7. The Psalmist does not say that he would have his ways directed to the object expressed in Psalm 119:5b. (Sept., De Wette, Del.), or that he would have them established, standing fast, for the sake of the object to be gained (Hupfeld), Prov. 4:26. [The former view which is expressed in E. V. is also that of Alexander. That of Dr. Moll is probably more correct. It is expressed in his translation: Oh that my ways were firmly set, to keep Thy statutes! The difference between the two views is very slight.—J. F. M.] אַחֲלַי, for which in 2 Kings 5:3, occurs אַחֲלֵי, is equivalent to Oh if! a sigh of desire. Psalm 119:7. The judgments of thy righteousness [E. V. righteous judgments] are those decisions with regard to justice and injustice, which express and fulfil God’s righteousness, and which are to be learnt from Scripture in connection with History (Del.) Ex. 21:1; 24:3; Lev. 18; Ps. 19:19 f., and which form the object of praise.
Beth. Psalm 119:9. In Psalm 119:9b, the answer given, in the gerund, to the question in Psalm 119:9a, has a form which is not quite suitable (Olshausen). After שׁמר may be supplied according to the analogy of the Psalm: it, that is, the way, or the law (Aben Ezra, J. H. Mich., Rosenmüller, Hupfeld, Hitzig). The reflexive construction (Luther, De Wette, Hengst., Del.) is likewise admissible, Josh. 6:18. The cleansing of the way (Ps. 73:13; Prov. 20:9) alludes to the defilement of sin. [Alexander differs from all these critics. He considers the construction of the infin. as a gerund to be too rare and doubtful to be assumed without necessity, and renders the second member: “(so) as to keep it according to thy word.” He says, “It is much more simple and agreeable to usage, to regard the whole as one interrogative, and the second clause as supplementary to the first. The answer is suppressed, or rather, left to be inferred from the whole tenor of the psalm, which is, that men, and especially young men, whose passions and temptations are strong in proportion to their inexperience, can do nothing of themselves, but are dependent on the grace of God. The omission of an answer, which is thus suggested by the whole psalm, rather strengthens than impairs the impression on the reader.”1—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:14. The Law is equalled in value to all possible riches; that is, to all blessings that can be conceived, and that are most highly prized by men. The rendering should not be: as it were more than all riches (Olsh.), but: as above all riches (comp. Psalm 119:162).
Gimel. Psalm 119:17, 18. In Psalm 119:17, according to the accentuation, אֶחְיֶה belongs to the first member, and indicates the end for which the divine bounties are entreated: “that I may live.” Attached to the second member, with the translation: if I live, I will keep (held to be possible by Hupfeld), the vow of obedience, prompted by the divine gift of life, would be uttered. Or, if we adopt the construction: may I live and keep (Hitzig), both of these ends are distinguished in one supplication, as simultaneous objects of entreaty. [According to the accents, the best translation is: Grant to thy servant (that) I may live, and I will keep thy word. So most translators. Alexander remarks that there may be an allusion to the way in which the Law connects life and obedience, and refers to Lev. 18:5; Deut. 6:24. Hengstenberg, in accordance with his hypothesis given above, holds that it is the preservation of the national existence that is meant.—J. F. M.] The wondrous things in Psalm 119:18 are not events in which the direction given by God is shown unexpectedly to have been right (Hitzig), but truths disclosed to faith, and revelations concerning God, lying in the law beneath the veil of the letter, and perplexing to the common understanding, to the knowledge of which the removal of the veil suspended over the eyes by nature is also necessary.
Psalm 119:19 ff. On earth we are only lodging as strangers, and, as it were, in a foreign land (1 Chron. 29:15; Ps. 39:13). Nor do we know beforehand what is established there as right and law. This we would faint discover; for the anger of God, which does not concern itself about our ignorance, dwells there too (Hitzig). Therefore we do not need speedy compassion on account of the fleetness of life (Hupfeld); we need instruction (De Wette) in our helplessness (Luther, Hengst., Del.) [Luther explains: “I have no inheritance but thy word; therefore forsake me not.”—J. F. M.]—In Psalm 119:22גַל is not instead of נֹל, from גלל to roll off, Josh. 5:9 (Isaaki, Ros., De Wette, Hengst.), but it is from נלח, to uncover, draw away the covering (Geier, J. H. Mich.), here that of contempt, [which is regarded as if it were a garment or cloak.—J. F. M.]
Daleth. Psalm 119:25–28. The reviving in Psalm 119:25 refers as usual, not to the strengthening of the spiritual, but to the restoration of the physical life, welfare, and prosperity, by deliverance from distress and danger. [ALEXANDER: “The first clause seems intended to suggest two consistent but distinct ideas: that of deep degradation as in Ps. 44:26, and that of death as in Ps. 22:30. The first would be more obvious in itself and in connection with the parallel referred to; but the other seems to be the prominent idea, from the correlative petition in the last clause.…Thy word, the promise annexed to Thy commandment, see Psalm 119:28.” Psalm 119:28a, should probably be rendered: My soul weeps from sorrow. The verb means to drop. In Job 16:20 it is applied to the eye.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:30 ff. In Psalm 119:30שֵׁוִּיתִי is scarcely to be explained as a setting before the mind; i.e. acknowledging as binding (Köster), or as a mental agreement; i.e. approving (Hitzig), but is to be understood of the act of the subject, by which something was placed before the eyes as a standard of action (Hengst., Del.). That which should be contemplated is contemplated (Ewald). The enlarging of the heart (Psalm 119:32) does not refer to the enlargement of the understanding, 1 Kings 5:9 (De Wette), but expresses the feeling of well-being and joy (Is. 60:5; 2 Cor. 6:11–13), as contrasted with mental oppression (Geier). [Render: For Thou shalt enlarge my heart.—J. F. M.]
He. Psalm 119:37 ff. The outward senses present to the heart the objects of forbidden desire, and excite pleasure in and desire for them (Is. 33:15: Job 31:1–7); men must therefore shut their ears and eyes against them and let them pass unheeded. In Psalm 119:38 the relation can be referred either to the word (Isaaki, J. H. Mich., De Wette, Hengst., Del.), or to the servant (Syr., Geier, Hitzig), without essentially altering the sense. כצעabscindere is used of profiting by defrauding one’s neighbor, 1 Sam. 8:3. שָׁוְא means that which is without real, intrinsic worth; that is, with relation to God; doctrine and life opposed to God. Psalm 119:39 does not speak of the judgments of God, whether merciful (Kimchi, Geier and others) or righteous ones (Hengst.), but, like the whole Psalm, of the revealed ordinances of justice.
Vau. Psalm 119:41, 42. As the Vau is really only placed here on account of alphabetical requirements, its occurrence in Psalm 119:42 is not to be pressed so as to make it indicate the object aimed at in the petition of the preceding verse: in order that I may answer (De W.). The manifestations of God’s mercy in Psalm 119:41 are, in the original, not in the singular (Sept.) but in the plural (Chald., Jerome).
Psalm 119:46–48. Psalm 119:46 is the motto of the Augsburg Confession according to the historical view of the verbs in the Vulgate, which, however, does not correspond with the Heb. text: Et loquebar de (in) testimoniis tuis in conspectu regum et non confundebar. The lifting up of the hands, Psalm 119:48, does not refer to the observance of the commandments, (most), still less to the worship of the law in the later Jewish manner (Köster), but to the longing desire expressed by stretching out the hands after the commandments (Hitzig), often parallel to the lifting up of the heart to the highest good, Pss. 28:2; 63:5; Lam. 3: 41 (Hengst., Hupfeld).
Zain. Psalm 119:50 ff. Psalm 119:50 reminds us of Job 6:10. It is doubtful whether כִּי in the second member of the verse is to be taken as explaining the “this” by mentioning what the comfort consisted in, or as the confirmatory “for” (Hupf.). [In Psalm 119:53 render: Indignation hath taken hold of me.—J. F. M.] In Psalm 119:54 the reference is not to exile or any other misfortune, but human life is, after Gen. 47, described as “the house of my sojournings.” Man has not upon earth his בֵּית עוֹלָם, Eccl. 12:5. The earth has been indeed given to him (Ps. 115:16), but not as his abiding-place (see on Psalm 119:19).
Cheth.—[Psalm 119:57 is translated by Dr. Moll: My portion is Jehovah! I have said to keep thy precepts (I have promised to keep thy precepts). Alexander translates and comments thus: “My portion, oh Jehovah, I have said (is) to keep thy words. This construction is rejected by Hengstenberg and others as forbidden by the accents and the analogy of Pss. 16:5; 73:26. But, as the same words may either express the sense here given, or: My portion is Jehovah, we are at liberty to choose the one best suited to the context, even in opposition to the accents, which cannot be regarded as an ultimate authority. In favor of the sense first given is its perfect agreement with the close of the preceding stanza. In reference to the resolution there recorded and described as being fulfilled, he here adds: thus have I said (declared my purpose), oh Lord, to obey thy words.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:61 ff. Psalm 119:61 is explained by Psalm 119:110. The pointing does not distinguish as clearly as might be expected (Del.) between חֶבְלֵיὠδῖνας and חַבְלֵי (snares). [Dr. Moll translates: The snares of the wicked have surrounded me. So Delitzsch, Hupfeld and Hengst. Perowne translates: cords. Alexander: bands, “the cordage of a net,” Ps. 18:5. The meaning: bands, in the sense of companies, troops, given in E. V. is as Del. remarks, never found attached to that word in the plural, though the sing. has that sense in 1 Sam. 10:5–10. Böttcher, however (§ 800), assigns to it that meaning here. The translation: “robbed” of E. V. in the same verse is entirely unfounded. I cannot discover its source.—J.F. M.] In Psalm 119:62 we have the accusative of time as in Job 34:20. With Psalm 119:63 comp. Prov. 28:24. Psalm 119:64a recalls Ps. 33:5.
Psalm 119:69, 70. The poet will not be induced to err from fidelity to God’s word by all the falsehoods which presumptuous men smear upon him (Böttcher) or better (absolutely as in Job 13:4) smear all at once over him, making the true nature of things undiscernible by daubing them over with false colors (Del.), or pasting on deceit (Hitzig). [Del. quotes the Chald., Talmud, and the Syr. in favor of the meaning smear over or on. This is now generally accepted. The idea of forging, devising, in E. V. follows the meaning to sew together, formerly assigned to טפל as the primary idea.—J. F. M.] Psalm 119:70. The heart which is overspread with fat or grease is a figure employed to denote want of sensitiveness or hard-heartedness, Pss. 17:10; 73:10; Is. 6:10.
Yodh. Psalm 119:75–78. In Psalm 119:75 it is not God Himself who is called אֱמוּנָה after Deut. 32:4 (Hengst.). The word is employed either as an adverbial accusative: in fidelity (most), or as in apposition and parallel to צֶדֶק, the following word becoming a relative clause, attached at the end of the verse (Hupf.). [The first member of Psalm 119:78 should be translated: Let the proud be ashamed; for they have wronged me by falsehood.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:83, 84. The bottle in the smoke, Psalm 119:83, is probably not a figurative representation of one who had become mellow and ripened by affliction (Hupfeld), taken from the custom of the ancients of hanging bottles filled with wine in the smoke high up above the fire; for wine is not the subject of the verse. Nor is there any comparison to a bottle hung up in order to make it dry and wrinkled, so as to adapt it for preserving wine (De Wette). It seems more suitable to refer to the effects of smoke as destroying and rendering useless (Geier, J. H. Mich., Hengst.). Accordingly, the meaning would be, that he allows nothing to force God’s word from his consciousness, although already he has become like a bottle blackened and shrivelled up in the smoke (Del.). The object of hanging such a bottle high up would then be to set it aside in the meantime as not immediately needed. And its contact with the smoke would be merely the consequence of its hanging in an elevated position, whither the smoke, in the absence of chimneys, would naturally rise. The point of comparison would then be the being set aside (Hitzig, Del.).—The expression in Psalm 119:84, translated: how many, in Gen. 47:8, occurs here in the sense: how few, Ps. 39:5. The entreaty of an immediate interference of God is evoked and supported by the thought of the brevity of human life.
Psalm 119:89–91. The heavens are mentioned with reference to their unchangeableness, as in Pss. 89:3; 30:37, not as a locality. So the firm establishment of the earth, as an actual proof and as the theatre of the unchangeable faithfulness of God (Geier, Hupfeld, Del.). The sense of Psalm 119:91 is doubtful; its explanation depending upon what is assumed as the subject of עָמְדוּ, and upon the meaning of that word itself. If heaven and earth be taken as the subject of the verb and the latter be understood in the sense of standing firm (Hupf.), the meaning would then be that the heavens and earth stand firm for the judgments and laws of God, serving, as it were, to support them, after the analogy of the preceding figure. If the subject is the judgments (Köster, De Wette, Hitzig), the meaning would be: As for thy judgments, they stand to day. The word would then not be used in the sense which it bears in Is. 55:11, but would mean His declared will, which, as the moral order of the world, is the internal complement of the physical order. The preservation of the world, Psalm 119:90, the continuance of the original creation, is an act of His unalterable and gracious purpose, Gen. 8:21 f. (Hitzig). If the subject be taken as generally as possible, as in Job 38:15, and with a reference to the following “all,” then it would not be merely meant, that all beings are subject to law, but either that they all, as his servants, stand ready to execute His will, Ps. 1:6 (Hengst.), or better, on account of the resemblance which the expressions bear to Numb. 30:5, 10; Josh. 20:6; Ezek. 44:24, that they have humbly to obey God’s judicial decisions (Böttcher, Del.), and that they must do so still to-day, because these declarations, long since formulated in the Law, are unalterably valid, as being words of God, and sure from eternity.
Psalm 119:96 strictly says only in reference to extent in space, that the Psalmist had seen an end of it, that a limit was to be found to everything in the world. It is, however, usually so explained to mean that all perfection on earth was wanting, and that the Psalmist knew that fact from experience.—The breadth of the Law is its immeasurableness, expressed likewise as though in space, as, in Job 11:7–9, the immeasurableness of God.
Mem. Psalm 119:99–102. The meaning of Psalm 119:99 is not that the Psalmist had profited in understanding from his teachers and from those who were very old (the Rabbins), but that he was superior in that quality to his teachers and the aged. An opposition is indicated to a worldly wisdom whose source is not the word of revelation. It is less clear, whether opposition is felt by a younger man, in his zeal for the law, to older men, who were hellenizing, or whether the aged men are here mentioned as representatives, like the teachers, of human authority.—[Psalm 119:102. ALEXANDER: “The divine judgments in this Psalm are always the external exhibitions of the divine righteousness in word or deed, by precept or by punishment. Here, of course, the former are especially intended. The figure of a way, though not expressed, is still indicated by the verbs depart and guide.”—J. F. M.]
Nun.—To have one’s soul in his hand (Psalm 119:110) signifies, according to the context, to remain consciously in danger of death. To take one’s soul in his hand (Judges 12:3; 1 Samuel 19:5; 28:21; Job 13:14) means: to be prepared to give up one’s life. Delitzsch cites the Talmudical saying: Man’s prayer is not heard unless he takes his life in his hand; i.e. unless he is ready to sacrifice his life.
Samech. Psalm 119:113–118. The doubters are called literally: divided persons, divided, that is, between two views, or between two modes of belief with their opposing claims (1 Kings 18:21), [E. V. translates the first clause: I hate vain thoughts. The translation supposed the word in question to be another form of סְעִפְּים (written usually with שׂ), thoughts, opinions. Hitzig translates: double-tongued, referring to Sirach 5:9. RIEHM: “It is certainly more suitable to suppose that the hating is directed against hypocrites, or those wavering in their belief between the true God and false gods, than against doubters; but it may be more correct to explain according to Ps. 12:3; 1 Kings 18”
Psalm 119:115b. should be translated: and I will keep the commandments of God. Most translators render: “that I may keep,” etc. But this is meaningless. The true view is that given by Alexander: “The first clause is borrowed from Ps. 6:9. The meaning in both cases seems to be that he has no fear of their enmity. The reason given in this case is, because he is resolved to do the will of God, and is therefore sure of His protection.” Psalm 119:118 translate: Thou hast despised, i.e., instead of: Thou hast trodden down.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:119, 120. Dross, or the residuum of smelted metal, is an image of the separating and purifying process of God’s judgments (Jer. 6:28 f.; Ezek. 22:18 f.; Mal. 3:2 f.).—In Psalm 119:120, פַּחַד is probably the terror of God, i.e., His dreadful appearing for judgment, Is. 2:10 f. (Hupfeld), before which the hair and skin of the Psalmist trembled (Ex. 34:7).
Ayin. [Psalm 119:122. Be surety, etc. ALEXANDER: “It means not merely: take me under Thy protection, but: become answerable for me, stand between me and those who, under any pretext, even that of legal right, may seek to oppress me.” See the phrase furtner discussed in Delitzsch on Job 17:3, and in his remarks at the end of that chapter, and comp. Alexander on Is. 38:14.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:128. The words: פָל־פִּקּוּדֵי כֹל, in spite of the analogy of Is. 29:11, as to the meaning, and of Num. 8:16; Ezek. 44:30, as to the form, are rather strange if they are intended to mean: all precepts concerning everything. Yet the correction כָל־פִקּוּדֶיךָ: all Thy precepts (Houbigant, Venema, Ewald, Olsh., Hupfeld), is not absolutely necessary.
Pe. Psalm 119:129–132. Psalm 119:129 does not allude to the observance of God’s testimonies for the sake of fulfilling them, but to the contemplation of them in order to understand them; for they are designated wonderful and marvellous (paradoxical) things, elevated above every-day life and the common understanding (Del.). There is therefore a light demanded for men, as they are simple (Prov. 22:3), which God gives by the פֵּתַח, that is, the opening or unfolding of His word. The opening of the mouth (Psalm 119:131) is an expression of the desire (Job 29:23) of the man who pants after the heavenly food of such disclosures. [The second member of Psalm 119:132 should be rendered: according to the right of those that love Thy name. In E. V. מִשְׁפָּט was supposed to have here the sense of custom, a meaning which it sometimes has, compare Greek δικὴ), and Arabic dinûn. This translation is retained by Perowne. But it is better, since the suffix is wanting, to take the word, as most do, in the sense of jus (comp. Ps. 81:5).—J. F. M.]
Tzadhe. Psalm 119:138–141. Since מְאֹד (Psalm 119:138) belongs, as in Ps. 47:9, to the preceding substantive, it is, perhaps, better to take the substantive: אֱמוּנָה and its parallel צֶדֶק, not adverbially: in righteousness, in truth, or: in justice, in fidelity (Syr., Hupf., Del.), but as in apposition: as righteousness, as truth, or: as justice, as fidelity (Sept., Geier, Hitzig). [In E. V. the Heb. order is entirely abandoned. Alexander and Perowne follow the former of the views above given: “Thou hast commanded thy testimonies in righteousness and exceeding faithfulness.”—J. F. M.]—In Psalm 119:141 the term small, applied by the Psalmist to himself, is interpreted by most, after the Sept. and Vulg., as referring to his youth. Yet it may also mean: insignificant (Hitzig).
Psalm 119:147 does not mean: I hastened to meet thee (Ps. 88:14) or: I hastened before thy face (Geier by supplying פָּנֶיךָNor can the meaning be: I anticipated the morning dawn, for קִדֵּם has not the accusative here, as in Psalm 119:148, but stands absolutely=to go before (Ps. 68:20), or: to hasten one’s self, here followed by the words: in the dawn. But the object with which or to which he hastened is here not connected with what precedes by ל, as in Jonah 4:2, but, in a looser construction, with the sentence: and I cried. His eyes then anticipated the night watches, in having not been closed by sleep in the beginning of each of them severally.
Psalm 119:152 means: I have long known from thy testimonies that, &c. (most), or: concerning thy testimonies, that (Hitzig). Hupfeld takes objection, and would rather translate, by doing away with the preposition: I have long known thy testimonies, for. Since, however, the preposition cannot be shown to be spurious, and the explanation of some of the older expositors: I know the times of old, or: antiquity, or: what is past, for, etc., is not tenable, he is not disinclined to take ידעתי absolutely: I am instructed, have understanding.
Psalm 119:160. רֹאשׁ, according to the context, does not mean: the beginning (the ancient translators and most expositors), but the sum, the total number of all the items in the reckoning. “The word of God is reckoned over in its parts and as a whole. Truth is the grand denominator and Truth the result” (Delitzsch).
Sin (Shin).—“While even in the oldest alphabetical Pijutim,2 Sin sometimes represents Samech also, and Shin never does, the reverse is the case in the biblical alphabetical pieces; here Sin and Shin occur together, and to Samech is assigned a place of its own” (Delitzsch)
Psalm 119:164. Seven times, as in Lev. 26:18; Prov. 24:16, comp. Matt. 18:21, is not merely a round number, as it is at all events, in Prov. 26:16, 25 (Hitzig), but a sacred number. It is to be understood here, however, not arithmetically, but symbolically, representing a continued course of devotional exercises, complete in itself, and surrounding and pervading, with its sacred influences, all the duties of the day. In the same way such exercises three times engaged in (Ps. 55:18), were shown to be spontaneous, rising above the perfunctory spirit, which might characterize the customary morning and evening devotions. [ALEXANDER: “The use of this form of expression here is not the effect, but the occasion of the use of canonical hours.”—J. F. M.]
Tau.—[Psalm 119:171 translate: My lips shall pour forth praise, for Thou wilt teach me Thy statutes.—J. F. M.] Psalm 119:176. A lost sheep is one separated from the flock (Is. 27:13), and, therefore, every moment in danger of destruction. The idea is explained by Is. 53:6. The accents (J. H. Mich., Hupf., Del.) are usually not regarded. [PEROWNE: “The figure cannot be employed here in the same sense in which it is employed in our Lord’s parable. He who is the lost sheep here is one who does not forget God’s commandments. The figure, therefore, seems in this place to denote the helpless condition of the Psalmist, without protectors, exposed to enemies, in the midst of whom he wanders, not knowing where to find rest and shelter.” ALEXANDER: “As the preceding verse sums up the petitions of the psalm, so this sums up its complaints in the first clause, and its professions in the last, connected by the short prayer (seek thy servant) as a single link. The predominant use of the past tense, even to the end, shows how deeply the entire psalm is founded upon actual and previous experience.”—J. F. M.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Psalm 119:1–8. The blessedness of those who love, praise, and strive after God’s word, in spite of all its opposers.—From the relation in which thou dost stand to God’s word, thou canst derive knowledge concerning the inclinations of thy heart, the bias of thy soul, and the conduct of thy life.—Be not satisfied with the possession of God’s word in the Holy Scriptures, but grow in the knowledge of it, and exercise thyself in its use.—Open thy heart to God in prayer for the entrance of His Word in its power.
STARKE: The blessed use of God’s word consists in a pious life, regulated thereby sincerely and steadfastly.—The world seeks its happiness in riches and honors, and does not find it. God’s word is a mine of gold in which we must dig, if we would be eternally happy.—To walk in God’s ways, and not to do evil consciously, are things inseparably connected.—If thou doest what God bids thee, thou knowest thou canst do no wrong.—We learn faith from the gospel, and love from the law. How can these commands be better kept, than when they are obeyed in the exercise of faith and love?—Where there dwells a heavenly mind there is a longing and sighing after the things of heaven.—It is the highest of all arts, to impress God’s word deeply upon the heart, and to desire to listen to nothing else. We have to keep learning that art as long as we live.—When we have God as our Teacher, and the Holy Spirit as our Guide, we learn Divine things aright.—It is the nature of God’s word, that, the more and the more diligently we read it aud meditate upon it, the richer understanding, instruction, and comfort it imparts. Its teaching can never be exhausted.
FRISCH: Follow the known will of God, as in belief, so also in life, and depart neither from the love nor the fear of it.—RIEGER: The blessed purpose, to seek God in His word, to cleave to Him according to His word, and to become a man thoroughly furnished to every good work through His word.—The word of God drives us to prayer by revealing to us our needs.—RICHTER: God’s word is the true expression and mirror of His nature.—GUENTHER: Having respect to God’s commandments is the condition of deliverance from temporal and eternal ruin. But this spiritual beholding is a looking to the commandments, contemplating them, meditating upon them, and observing them all without exception.—DIEDRICH: A life according to God’s law is not one of compulsion or servitude, but of the highest delight, of blissful enjoyment, and of lofty sublime security.—TAUBE: The Psalmist has a lofty aim before him, and yet there is a sigh in his bosom; he aspires to learn and perform assiduously God’s commandments, and yet to rest humbly in the mercy of God alone, and all with the whole heart and with an upright soul.
[MATT. HENRY: It will not serve us to make religion the subject of our talk, but we must make it the rule of our walk.—See how the desires and prayers of a good man exactly agree with the will and command of a good God. Thou wouldst have me keep Thy precepts, and, Lord, I fain would keep them.—God’s judgments are all righteous, and therefore it is desirable, not only to learn them, but to be learned in them, mighty in the Scriptures.—We cannot keep God’s commandments, unless we learn them, but we learn them in vain, unless we keep them.—SCOTT: It is the will of God that we should wisely seek our own happiness; our self-love, indeed, should be properly directed and subordinated: but it cannot and ought not to be extirpated.—BRIDGES : To exclude any commandment from a supreme regard in the heart, is the brand of hypocrisy.—We always find that as our mind is dark, our tongue is dumb and we are unable to bear a testimony for our God.—J. F. M].
Psalm 119:9–16. The greater the perils and the stronger the temptations which beset the young in the world (2 Tim. 2:22), the more do they need to hold us to God’s word, whose wisdom will help their inexperience, and whose power will help their weakness.—We must begin early to obey God’s word (Prov. 8:17; Lam. 3:27), and never cease.—From love to God’s word, there flow thanks that we have received it, joy that we now possess it, and desire to make use of it.—Those who have, hear, and learn God’s word, should also keep (Luke 11:28), profess and follow it, as the guide of their faith and life.
STARKE: He who would be godly must begin in time, for that to which one is habituated in his boyhood, he does not abandon in his age (Prov. 22:6).—God’s word is the best school for the young and the old (2 Tim. 3:15; Lev. 2:31 f.).—True religion has its seat in the heart, and is proved by words, by works, and by a Christian life.—The more a believer exercises himself in God’s word, and tastes its graciousness, the dearer it becomes to him.—The heart as well as the memory must be a casket that contains the treasure of the Divine word.—Growth in godliness results from delight in God’s word.
ARNDT: God’s word must be fulfilled upon thee, whether for life or death.—RICHTER: Hold to God’s whole word early, earnestly, and joyfully.—DIEDRICH: I cannot trust in myself to remain steadfast. And the most advanced in spiritual things must implore it as a favor from God, that they may abide only in the truth.—TAUBE: A youth of unimpaired purity and strength, is a presage of the blessedness of the whole life.
[SCOTT: As God is both perfectly holy and perfectly happy, and as His blessedness is the result of His infinite excellency, how absurd it must be to expect happiness by being contrary to Him and rebelling against Him!—BRIDGES: Let it be remembered that daily progress in the heavenly walk is not maintained by yesterday’s supply of grace. A fresh supply must be continually drawn in by humble and dependent prayer.—No better test can be needed of the security of our heart with God, than a willingness to come to the searching light of His holy word.—If our inability to bear a testimony for our Lord is not painful to us (comp. Ps. 39:12; Jer. 20:9), we have the greatest reason to suspect, if not the sincerity, at least the strength of our attachment to His precious name.—BARNES: Such an apprehension (that there may be a wandering from God’s commandments) is one of the best means of security, for it will lead a man to pray, and while a man prays he is safe.—J. F. M.].
Psalm 119:17–24. The word of God as the light and the food of His servants, who, as strangers upon earth, journey heavenwards.—Among the benefits and the wonders of God, the gift of His holy word shines forth in power, diffusing help and blessing in its beams.—All men desire life and well-being, and God furnishes the means of obtaining them. But how few are thoroughly acquainted with them, and how few avail themselves of them in the way appointed by God.—In order to discern the truth of revelation, we need not only to have the gift of sight, but also to pray that both our eyes and the Scriptures may be opened for us.
STARKE: We can only be said rightly to receive the blessings of God with thanksgiving when they are employed to advance our spiritual life, and the exercise of true godliness.—The wicked act as though they had to remain in the world for ever: the pious, on the contrary, know that their abiding place is in heaven, and they long after that (Heb. 13:14).—The longing of believers for the true service of God is not a transient heat, but is hearty, ardent, and constant.—The mystery of affliction is soon solved if we keep God’s testimonies.—It is much better for us to live, so as to please the Supreme King who lives eternally. Then we will find comfort enough in His word.—The fear of men, and the desire to please them, poison true religion and prevent it from ever becoming pure.
FRISCH: Thou mayest consult God’s word upon whatever thou wilt, and it will never send thee away without advice. But it rests with thyself to follow it.—THOLUCK: God’s law should not be the object of an idle contemplation, but a practical counsellor for all the relations of human life.—GUENTHER: A strong incitement to a pure life may be found in the nature of man and of his life, His temporal life is only the beginning not the end; the earth is not his enduring dwelling-place, but only a transient lodging-place. Woe to the stranger who has not chosen here the true home.—DIEDRICH: We must not allow ourselves to be turned from God’s word by the enmity of the world.—GEROK: God’s commands to His strangers on earth as inscribed upon the gates of the new year. They relate (1) to the heavenly Protector, (2) to the earthly companions, (3) to the heavenly goal.—TAUBE: God’s word is the greatest miracle; it is the key to the knowledge of His whole government.
[MATT. HENRY: I am a stranger, and therefore stand in need of a guide, a guard, a companion, a comforter; let me have Thy commandments always in view, for they will be all this to me, all that a poor stranger can desire. I am a stranger here, and must be gone shortly, by Thy commandments let me be prepared for my removal hence.—BP. HORNE: Pride, prejudice, and interest will compose a veil, through which the Christian shall see as little of the New Testament, as the Jew doth of the Old. Lord, convince us of our blindness, and restore us to our sight!—BRIDGES: It is indeed an unspeakable mercy to know a little of the Lord, and yet, at the same time, to feel that it is only a little that we do know. In this spirit we shall be longing to know more, and yet anxious to know nothing, except as we are taught of God.—We want, not a clearer rule, or a surer guide, but a more single eye.—J. F. M.].
Psalm 119:25–32.—The sighs, tears, and anxieties of the pious are as little understood by the world, as their prayers, their joys, and their hopes.—God’s testimonies afford consolation, strengthening, and hope, even to him that is persecuted by men, and that in his hours of greatest extremity.—He who walks in the way which the commands of God point out and prescribe to us, learns ever to understand it more deeply, and receives thereby renewed desire and fresh strength to advance upon it.
STARKE: That which supports the heart most powerfully against spiritual feebleness, is the gracious word of the gospel.—The word of God is the touch-stone by which we can prove whether a doctrine is true or false.—He who plans before his eyes, as a rule, God’s wise precepts, will find mercy and help with Him.—Human wit and learning may bring to shame, but God’s word and faith in it, never can.—God’s comforts incline and prepare the heart to become more godly.—In the religion of Christ there must be no standing still; the motto of a Christian must be: ever onward through Christ (Eph. 4:13).
ARNDT: Everything is false (1) which is not and comes not from God; (2) which comes not from the inmost depths of the heart; (3) which does not abide the test of affliction.—FRISCH: God is faithful; do thou only keep what thou hast vowed, and, if He has opened wide thy heart from without and from within, continue thou the more zealously and joyfully in His service, so as to please Him well.—GUENTHER: Sin has crippled the wings of the soul, and it is only through God’s word that it can soar aloft again; and, when it languishes, can revive it with the water of life.—TAUBE: The heart that resorts constantly and hopefully to God’s word and to prayer, can never be driven from its stronghold, but is preserved therein by God’s power (1 Pet. 1:5). And then the progress is firm and sure, and the walk in God’s ways, joyful and comforting.
[MATT. HENRY: God’s word should be our guide and plea in every prayer.—God by His Spirit enlarges the hearts of His people when He puts wisdom there, 1 Kings 4:29, and when He sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, and puts gladness there. The joy of our Lord should be wheels to our obedience.—BISHOP HORNE: How much depends upon the road we choose! How difficult it is, in a divided and distracted world, to choose aright! Yet this choice, so important, so difficult, often remains to be made by us, when we have neither judgment to choose, nor strength to travel!—BRIDGES: No one can lay claim to the character and privileges of a Christian, to whom sin is not the greatest sorrow and the heaviest burden.—It is the earthliness of the soul that obstructs our brighter view of the Saviour, dims the eye of faith, and hides those brighter prospects which, if beheld in the clear horizon, would enliven and invigorate us in our heavenly way.—BARNES: Sin contracts the soul, religion enlarges it.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:33–40.—Deviations from the right way are very numerous and perilous, under the allurements of sin. We, therefore, need not merely instruction through God’s word, but also to have our hearts guided and inclined towards what is right and pleasing to God.—We need never flatter ourselves that we are secure. We must labor to remain steadfast even to the end; and we can never do without God’s assistance, for such fidelity demands an observance of the law with the whole heart.—There are few who are contented with the gain which arises from godliness (1 Tim. 6:6), or who feel that they have enough of the gifts of God (Gen. 33:11), and yet avarice is a root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10).
STARKE: It is with most men, in spiritual things, as with the blossoms on the trees in spring. How many are whirled away by the wind! how many are pierced by the worm! This is why constancy is so much insisted upon in God’s word.—It is impossible to preserve God’s word in the heart, and to obey it from the heart, when there is no love for it (John 14:33).—Pleasure! pleasure! is the cry of the world; in all directions this is the great object. But who seeks and finds pure pleasure in God and His word?—To hate, fear, and flee from sin is a noble, yea, a godlike attribute, and results from love of virtue and good.—When the heart begins to doubt with regard to God’s word, whether it is His word or not, it falls into a most pitiable condition.—The regenerate, in every event of their lives, renew their resolution, not to sin presumptuously, but fear God as little children.
ARNDT: I care not for the disgrace of calumniation, which I innocently endure, if only I am not put to shame before God.—FRISCH: Why do I complain so much of outward temptations? I have in myself the greatest distress. I find darkness in my understanding, great indolence in my will, and in my inclinations, and still too much anxiety and love for the earthly, and in my thoughts of external things, too great bias towards the vain pursuits of this world.—RIEGER : Show me Thy ways, instruct me, guide me, incline my heart. In these prayers there is indeed shown just distrust of ourselves, and a child-like clinging to the hand of God.—GUENTHER: Thou must free thy soul from earthly good and carnal desires, else thou canst not rise, but wilt remain tied down, and forget at last how to fly.—DIEDRICH: Be Thou my Teacher, Thou that art the highest Wisdom and the Source of life, and then shall I be able to live and love better.—Dishonor from the world is our honor; it becomes our dishonor only when we by it are drawn away from God.—God’s guidance, which constrains us so gently and yet so powerfully, is the best defence against the evil impulses of the human heart, which His servant feels deeply, and confesses so unreservedly.
[MATT. HENRY: Beholding vanity deadens and slackens our pace; but if our eyes be kept from that which will divert us, our hearts will be kept to that which shall excite us.—BRIDGES: If God loves you, He will not indeed lose you; but unless you “take heed and beware of covetousness,” He will not spare you (1 Tim. 6:10).—Watchfulness without prayer is presumption; prayer without watchfulness is self-delusion.—In proportion as our interest in the great salvation is assured us, will be the exercise of our faith in pleading our interest in the great salvation included in it.—BARNES: An ugly object loses much of its deformity to us, when we look often upon it. Sin follows this general law.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:41–48.—If we had not God’s gracious promises, we poor sinners would not venture to come before His face with petitions; but now we may and shall draw near unto Him, in penitence and faith, on the ground of His word.—Our calumniators, revilers, and enemies should not rob us of our joy, and drive us from our faith, but only urge us more strongly to God and His word.—God’s commandments are to have more weight with us than the mandates of the mighty of earth.
GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS: I have this advantage over my revilers, that I become only more devoted to religion and godliness on account of their attacks.
STARKE: God’s mercy, help, and word are closely united with one another; each is based upon the others, or flows from them.—The word of truth does not help us so long as we regard it as an empty husk, and do not strive to have our faith kindled by it.—Dost thou really fear God, oh soul? Then let thyself be heard, so that it may be known what thou art. What is believed in the heart must be confessed.—It is for the honor of Christ, and also for thine own, if thou dost fearlessly confess Him before men—The less earnestness one shows in religion, the more foolish he is, for it is just his half-heartedness in his religion, that makes it painful and harassing to him.—In a profession of faith there must be steadfastness. Whatever is yea and amen according to God’s word remains ever so. Truth to-day is nothing different from what it was yesterday.—FRANKE: The ten commandments are an old-fashioned thing with the world. None trouble themselves about them for they think that no one can keep them. But with God’s children it is not so. His commandments are to them not a house of correction, but a garden of delights.—FRISCH: He, of whom you confess, is greater than they before whom you confess. Only see to it, that the heart and the hand agree with the mouth.—RIEGER: A good step is taken forwards, when we become ready to give an answer to him who demands a reason: when we overcome the modesty which would keep itself concealed, and are not kept back from confessing the truth by the unbelief and scorn of others.—GUENTHER: It is demanded of us that we hold fast to God’s word, that we overcome humiliation by humility, and that we esteem honor from God, more highly than all the praise of the world.—TAUBE: That freedom, which has its divinely powerful springs in a blessed devotion to God’s precepts, begets great joy, which is manifested outwardly by fearless confession, inwardly by absorbing delight in His commandments.
[MATT. HENRY: All that love God love His government, and, therefore, love all His commandments.—BRIDGES: General notions of the mercy of God, without a distinct apprehension of His salvation, can never have any other origin than in presumption, which God abhors.—The common topics of earthly conversation may furnish a channel for heavenly intercourse, so that our communication, even with the world, may be like Jacob’s ladder whose bottom rested upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.—Acceptable obedience, must flow from love, and be accompanied with a measure of delight.—J. F. M.].
Psalm 119:49–56. The word of God, as the ground of our hope in life, as a light in our night of trouble, as a song on our pilgrimage.—To continue steadfast, patient, and courageous in the word of God, is, according to the testimony of history and the experience of all believers, the everflowing fountain of blessing in the miseries of this world.—God deigns to be reminded of His word by our mouth. But he who undertakes to do so must not only know God’s word, he must also sincerely love it, believe it from the heart, and earnestly strive to keep it.—God does not forget or abandon us: but oh that we, at all times, by day and by night, in prosperity and in adversity, might remember God and His word, and cleave to them!—To keep God’s word, is the endowment and e tate of the pious.
STARKE: If God wills that our faith should not forget His promises, He will surely, in His faithfulness, not leave His promise unfulfilled.—When God’s word and hope and prayer are united in any heart, there are found comfort, life, and revival.—Former judgments of God are a powerful mirror of terrors for the ungodly, but comforting tokens of mercy for believers.—The children of God resemble their heavenly Father, inasmuch as what He abhors is abhorred by them.—To abandon God and His word is the first step to sin, and soon after that comes the greatest degree of obduracy.—It is a burden to the children of the world, to have much to do with God’s word, but to God’s children it is a delight, for it cheers and sweetens this troublous life.—Those who assiduously call God’s word to mind through the day, and who commend themselves earnestly to Him on retiring to rest, have in this the surest remedy against evil thoughts and sinful dreams.—A good conscience, guarded well in accordance with God’s word, is better than all the joys and riches of this world.—RIEGER: It is a great privilege, when we have to sustain new assaults, to be able to look back with comfort upon temptations overcome.—GUENTHER: Thou must now learn to make a difference amongst men, determining thy friendships and thy enmities according to God’s word.—DIEDRICH: God cannot forsake those who wait for Him: the faith which He Himself has evoked, He cannot leave unjustified.—TAUBE: God’s words are the concealed roots of His deeds, and His deeds are His words laid bare.—A worldly man is enraged when he himself is insulted, but quite indifferent when God is insulted. It is the reverse with God’s children. Their holy indignation at the despisers of God has, as its reverse side, a holy love for the law of the Lord.
[MATT. HENRY: Those that make God’s promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea.—Those can bear but little for Christ, that cannot bear a hard word for Him.—God’s work is its own wages: a heart to obey the will of God is a most valuable reward of obedience; and the more we do, the more we may do in the service of God: the branch that beareth fruit is made more fruitful.—BRIDGES: Seek to keep your heart in tune.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:57–64. It is impossible to keep God’s word without His gracious assistance, but He affords such assistance to those who pray earnestly for it, and continue thus to pray.—The communion of believers is a rich fountain of mutual comfort, support, and edification.—The better we learn to know ourselves and the world by an impartial trial, with the greater longing will we entreat from God’s mercy the light, the comfort, and the power of His holy word.—MELANCHTHON’S custom was to rise up soon after midnight, and after praying to meditate upon God’s word.—STARKE: How earnestly men strive after earthly possessions! how many disputes are caused thereby! But they despise the heavenly inheritance, and often even trifle it away.—The chief matter of all our prayer should be, that God would be merciful to us, and preserve us in His mercy.—It is sometimes advisable in temporal matters to postpone the execution of a purpose, but in things spiritual, every moment is fraught with peril if repentance be deferred.—GUENTHER: As soon as thou showest zeal in thy religion, many former friends will forsake thee. No matter.—LYNCKER: A retrospect of the past year teaches (1) how much we have to be thankful for, (2) bow much we have to implore pardon for, (3), whom we have to comfort us.—TAUBE: He who is in haste to deliver his soul evinces a sincere heart.—The riches of God’s mercy, spread as they are over all the earth, are disclosed to the eye of faith; but the greatest of His mercies is His word, which excites faith, and teaches us to recognize God in His ways and works.
[MATT. HENRY: Those that take God for their portion, must take Him for their prince, and swear allegiance to Him; and having promised to keep His word, we must often put ourselves in mind of our promise, Ps. 39:1.—We must never think the worse of God’s ways for any trouble we may meet with in those ways: nor fear being losers by our religion at last, however we may be losers by it now.—See how the Psalmist husbanded his time: when he could not lie and sleep, he would rise and pray.—BP. HORNE: Mercy is the sole fountain of every good gift for which we ask, and God’s promise the sole ground upon which we ask it.—BRIDGES : The more there is of our heart in seeking, the more there will be of the Lord’s heart in returning to us.—J. F. M.].
Psalm 119:65–72. He who humbles himself under God’s powerful hand, will find his sufferings turn to blessings; they make him, especially, learn and feel his own sins and God’s mercy.—He is blessed, who has become wise by experience, and who, by the discovery of his error, has been driven from his own sins, and from the ways of the world, to God and His word.—We err most and most perilously, when we esteem ourselves wise, righteous, and strong.—God’s word a treasure above all treasures; why and for what ends?
STARKE: God is the living source of all good.—To this fountain men should trace it all, so that God be not robbed of His glory.—Affliction is a holy and profitable ordinance of God; a school of wisdom, in which is learnt what God and man are.—Human knowledge and scientific understanding of Divine truth does not make any truly taught of God. Faith, prayer, and trials are also necessary.—There is nothing that can be less well endured than prosperity. Men commonly fall away, under it, into false paths and into sin.—God may bring us back to His way by gentle or by harsh means, and yet they are all nothing but goodness and mercy.—The rod makes good children, and the uses of the cross, to those who are exercised thereby, are great and manifold.—That so many are lost and condemned is due to their worshipping gold and silver as their gods, and thus forgetting the Eternal God.—He who is God’s child does not concern himself about gold and silver. If he is God’s child, he is also His heir, and He will give him what he needs, when it is necessary for him.—If men would rightly consider the origin of the Divine word, that it is a word from the mouth of God, they would joyfully become possessors of it; they could not do otherwise.—FRISCH: From every work and word of our beloved God, we must taste and see how kind He is.—RIEGER: God brings men down from their own wisdom by humiliations, and commonly from their own righteousness by more severe humiliations.—TAUBE: What are we without God’s word? We know not what we are to do, nor what He does.
[MATT. HENRY: God’s favors look best when they are compared with the promise, when they are seen flowing from that fountain.—Sanctified afflictions soften the heart and open the ear for discipline. The prodigal’s distress brought him to himself first and then to his father.—SCOTT: How dreadful is the case of those who are hardened in sin, even in the furnace of affliction!—BRIDGES: Let my heart never condemn me when it ought not! Let it never fail to condemn me when it ought!—There is none so communicatively good as God.—The first mark of the touch of grace, is when the heart becomes sensible of its own insensibility, and contrite on account of its own hardness.—J. F. M.].
Psalm 119:73–80. We owe to God as our Creator our natural life and its preservation. Is it otherwise with our spiritual life?—To those who fear God, His faithfulness is discernible, even in His judgments, as that of a merciful God.—The sincere servant of God soon discovers that he has no other consolation than the mercy of the Lord.
STARKE: The creation of a new heart creates also the obligation to strive after progress in the living knowledge of God, and to praise Him for His benefits.—The good that God bestows upon a believer serves not only to console and edify him, but other believers also.—Nothing in God and in great lords is more convenient to their subjects than mercy, but there is nothing that is so much abused or so capriciously drawn upon.—God’s mercy is not for the servants of sin, but for His own.—Our consolation flows from the fountain of eternal Compassion, and we repose upon God’s promise, when we are inclined to receive this consolation.
FRISCH: Others are directed to look at thee: look then well at thyself. Oh, let them never discover anything evil; think of the sad effects of wickedness! Rather let thy doing and forbearing be so regulated that they may follow thy example with gladness and a good conscience.—RIEGER: It is no small help to those who fear God and yet are unable to throw off the oppression of the service of vanity, when they see one who clings so fast to God in faith, confession, holy deeds, and hope, and allows himself to be overwhelmed by no obstruction.—DIEDRICH: Like seeks comfort only in like, and so do those who fear God. But they have also a long chain of comforting thoughts behind them, and in these thoughts they are raised up again.—TAUBE: The flower and quintessence of the whole revealed word is the gracious consolation promised by God, and gained by prayer.
[MATT. HENRY : The way in which God recovers and secures His interest in men is by giving them an understanding; for by that door he enters into the soul and gains possession of it.—BP. HORNE: In all our trials let us remember that our brethren as well as ourselves are deeply interested in the event which may either weaken or strengthen the hands of multitudes.—BRIDGES: Be chiefly afraid of an inward decay, of a barren, sapless notion of experimental truth. Remember that your profession can only be thriving, vigorous, fruitful, as it is watered at the root.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:81–88. God’s word is and remains the subject of our confession, the guide of our path, and the ground of our hope.—If we do not make such rapid progress as we would wish, we go yet more surely forwards, if we do not allow ourselves to be forced or enticed aside from the word and way of God and the influence of His mercy.
STARKE: If God removes His consolation there is nothing in the world which can comfort the soul.—God often wounds the body that He may heal the soul.—To have God’s word ever and forever in lively recollection, is an excellent characteristic of hope.—Presumption and pride in the enemies of Christ and of His followers, is a sure fore-token of the severe judgment that impends over them.—As much as the world can afflict, torment, and slay, so much can God’s grace comfort, delight, and revive.—The mercy of God must be beginning, middle, and end. Thou livest in that mercy and upon it.—To God’s children every moment that He delays His help appears too long. But God has His wise reasons. He will surely fulfil His word at the right time.
FRISCH: The ungodly can only kill the body; they may take away the natural life and earthly goods and possessions; they must leave us the life eternal.—DIEDRICH: In God consolation, in the world distress; with God faithfulness, with the world deadly falsehood.—TAUBE: New troubles and new conflicts, but the old hope and refuge in his God.—It is the consolation of grace, that first opens the way to the prayer for help.
[MATT. HENRY: God help me is an excellent comprehensive prayer. It is a pity that it should ever be used lightly or as a by-word.—The surest token of God’s good-will towards us, is His good work in us.—BRIDGES: Faith is indeed the soul’s venture for eternity, but it is a sure venture upon the ground of the word of God.—Be assured that waiting time is most precious. Not a moment of it will be found eventually to have been lost. And not a moment of it could possibly have been spared. It is the preparation and work by which the Lord has been progressively moulding your heart for the reception of a more refreshing and abundant mercy.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:89–96. Nothing is to be compared with God but His word. From it we may learn to know Him in His truth, and from it, too, we may gain eternal life.—The world has been created by the word of God, and by His word it shall be prepared for His kingdom.—Everything changes; but not God and His word.
STARKE: Eternity is a word of terror, or a word of delight, according to the character of the person who contemplates it.—God will not change His word, but men must change themselves according to that word, or it will judge them on that day.—Remember God’s word at all times, and never forget it. If thou wilt forget anything, forget created things, which prevent thee from remembering it continually.—He who rightly appropriates in faith the meaning of the name Jesus, can truly pray: save me.—The friendship between God’s children and the world began with Cain, and will continue to the end of the world.—The pre eminent excellence of God and His word must be so much clearer in the eyes of one who compares with them the things of this world.
FRANKE: The uniting of the heart with God, so that God becomes ours and we become God’s, is the highest good that can be sought in this life.—FRISCH: Be not deluded by Satan, and persuaded that the word of the Lord is of the same nature as that of men. Rather let experience testify in thee, whether thou wouldst not long since have perished in manifold distress, if this word had not continued with thee, and strengthened thy heart.—DIEDRICH: We know surely, that we have in God the greatest strength for us, as well as the greatest love.—TAUBE: He who abides by the Father is established with the word that is forever sure, and cannot perish.
[MATT. HENRY : See here what is the best help for bad memories, namely, good affections.—BRIDGES: Will the Christian complain of the exceeding breadth of the commandment? The contemplation of it has lost its terrors in the recollection that the gospel of the Saviour has met its full demands. Broad as it may be, the love that has fulfilled it is immeasurable.—BARNES: A man who feels assured that he is a friend of God, has a right to appeal to Him for protection, and he will not appeal to Him in vain.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:97–104. The longer and the more seriously we have to do with God’s word, the clearer it becomes to us; and the more highly we value it, the more will everything drive us to it.—It will be manifest in our words and conduct how we abide by the word of God.
LUTHER: Old age does not save from folly if God’s commands are not kept.—STARKE: He who has tasted in his soul the graciousness of God’s word, can never be satiated in its enjoyment.—His hunger grows in such excess of supply: in his case it is true: “the longer the fonder.”—As highly as grace surpasses nature, so much do those who are enlightened by God surpass those who are learned in the light of nature. True wisdom is not to be gauged by the number of years, but by the love to God and His word, and a blameless life.—A regenerate Christian is his own severe critic. He will not spare himself if he detects his heart inclining to error.—God’s word is truly that miraculous tree which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction.—Honey is both medicine and food, so also is God’s word to our souls, but its fruit, and taste far surpass earthly honey.—The love of virtue always begets hatred of vice. The devil and Christ, light and darkness, are never united.—RIEGER: What a sincere heart seems to say here in its own praise, is really resolved into nothing but praise of God and His word, by which it has been taught, guided, and kept from every evil and false way.—DIEDRICH: God’s word is of infinite meaning. One never wearies of it, but is ever more refreshed and revived.—DEICHERT: There is no more precious treasure in the world than God’s word; for (1) it remains when all else disappears; (2) it comforts and revives in distresses and sins; (3) and makes all wise for the blessed overcoming.—TAUBE: Men cannot love God’s word without constant use of it, and they cannot love the truth obtained from it without hating falsehood.
[MATT. HENRY: Heavenly wisdom will carry the point at long run against carnal policy.—By keeping the commandments we secure God on our side, and make Him our friend, and therein are certainly wiser than those who make Him their enemy.—The love of the truth prepares for the light of it.—BP. HORNE: Our heavenly Teacher differeth from all others in this, that with the lesson, he bestoweth on the scholar both a disposition to learn and the ability to perform.—We shall ever find our relish for the word of God to be greatest when that for the world and the flesh is least, in time of affliction, sickness and death; for these are contrary one to the other. In heaven the latter will be no more, and therefore the former will be all in all.—BRIDGES: Let us remark this frame of enjoyment, this spiritual barometer, the pulse of the soul, marking most accurately our progress or decline in the divine life. With our advancement in spiritual health, the word will be increasingly sweet to our taste, while our declension will be marked by a corresponding abatement in our desires, and love and perception of its delights.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:105–112. In the light of God’s word we see where we are to set our feet in the darkness of this world, so as not to stumble and fall, and whither we are to direct the way of our steps for our salvation.—As God is so much in earnest with His requirements, threatenings and promises, so it is incumbent upon us to govern our lives according to them.—The perils of those who confess God are great; but so also is the reward of faithfulness.—If the heart has been inclined in love to God’s word, then the word impels us, with the vigor of life, to the fulfilment of our resolves and vows, to the praise of the Lord, with the offerings of the lips and the life.—The word of God—a heavenly light, a comfort to the soul, a life giving force.
STARKE: If God’s word is a lamp and light, it must, be bright and clear. How do unbelievers say then that it is dark?—Reason may be a light, and a fair one; but it cannot show or discover the way from death to life.—Affliction may indeed subdue and humble us; but God’s word gives, under its influence, rich consolation. If thou lovest life better than God’s word, thou wilt in death lose both thy life and Christ.—What will men not do in order to acquire an earthly inheritance? And should not the eternal inheritance be worth so much as that men would willingly resign everything else, and aspire after it alone?
FRISCH: Make a good beginning, and accustom thy heart more and more to be conformed to God’s judgments, even to the end.—RIEGER: The best and most fervent resolutions may be followed by the most complete humiliation, so that the strange fire that has been introduced may be separated, the spirit preserved from self-elevation, and the professed zeal be put to a suitable proof.—DIEDRICH: Worldlings would have, as their inheritance, hard cash or real estate; such possessions give them much vexation.—TAUBE: The word is always the strong branch, which the believer seizes while about to sink, so that he is not swallowed up in the abyss; and his prayer from the depths is then the outstretched hand.
[MATT. HENRY: The commandment is a lamp kept burning by the oil of the Spirit; it is like the lamps in the sanctuary and the pillar of fire to Israel.—Bp. HORNE: Man is a traveller, his life is a journey, heaven is his end, his road lies through a wilderness, and he is in the dark.—BRIDGES: The lamp must be lighted, or no reflection will shine upon our path. The word of God must be accompanied with the teaching of the Spirit, or all is “darkness, gross darkness” still.—Those who have never realized the nearness of eternity can have but a faint idea of the support that is needed in the hour when “flesh and heart fail” to keep the soul in simple dependence upon the Rock of ages.—How encouraging is it to trace every tender prayer, every contrite groan, every working of spiritual desire, to the assisting, upholding influence of the free Spirit of God. The same hand that gave the new bias to direct the soul in a heavenward motion will be put forth from time to time to quicken that motion—to incline the heart even unto the end.—BARNES: All who make a profession of religion solemnly vow or swear. They do it in the house of God; they do it in the presence of the Discerner of hearts; they do it at the communion table; they do it at the family altar; they do it in the closet when alone with God.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:113–120. With half of the heart we can neither love God, nor trust His word truly, nor earnestly hate and forsake evil.—The turning away from the world and the turning to God are mutually conditioned and are the saving fruit of a living fear of God.—The word of God, as a word of truth, assures the deliverance of the righteous and the ruin of the ungodly.
STARKE: That man has not a spark of true love to God in his soul who can behold the wickedness of men with indifference and without emotion.—No man can be so secure and free from danger as a believer who dwells under the protection of the Highest.—If a man would withdraw himself gradually from evil society, his endeavors will be useless: he always becomes entangled in it again. The separation must be made completely and at once.—Those reflections are profitable which a believer makes when he examines himself to discover whether he retains his early strength of religious feeling or whether he has declined. If he detects signs of the latter, what is more necessary than the prayer: Strengthen me that I may recover?—All false doctrine and sinful living are seed and fruit sown and raised by the devil; therefore God hates and punishes them.—He who is not terrified before the wrath of God and does not work out his salvation with fear and trembling has in store for himself in eternity unceasing despair and wailing.
FRANKE: If a man be spiritually sound, God’s word will ever be sweet to him; his heart will ever delight itself in God, and he will do His will with alacrity and cheerfulness in all that is enjoined upon him. By this it can be known whether his soul is healthy or unsound.—FRISCH: Many suppose that they can believe what they will, that no one will care anything about it, that there will be no trouble or danger in it, and so they cast God’s word behind them, and follow every changing opinion, and allow themselves to be deceived by false doctrine, and thus are led to fall away; but are they to do this with impunity? They imagine, indeed, that they may live as they please and no misfortune will come upon them. But when they say: There is peace! there is no danger! destruction quickly overtakes them.—RIEGER: Hatred of evil must quicken and purify the love of good; while the love of good must control and regulate the hatred of evil.—DIEDRICH: All the thoughts and desires of the natural man are false; for he wishes what does not, and can never, come to pass, and seeks life and honor in that which is death and the vilest disgrace.—TAUBE: Fear and love, in one and the same heart, and towards one and the same object, God’s testimonies and judgments.
[MATT. HENRY: Whatever others do, this I will do; though I be singular; though all about me be evil-doers and desert me; whatever I have done hitherto, I will for the future walk closely with God. They are the commandments of God, of my God, and therefore I will keep them. He is God, and may command me; my God, and will command me nothing but what is for my good.—We stand no longer than God holds us, and go no further than He carries us.—BP. HORNE: Encompassed with a frail body and a sinful world, we need every possible tie; and the affections both of fear and love must be employed to restrain us from transgression; we must, at the same time, love God’s testimonies and fear His judgments.—BRIDGES: There is no humble believer that will not have observed how intimately the “fear of the Lord” is connected with the “comfort of the Holy Ghost,” and with his own steady progress in holiness and preparation for heaven.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:121–128. A good conscience comforts and strengthens the soul in the bitter sufferings of persecution which the world never forgets to inflict upon the righteous; but it does not make them vain or secure.—Courage and humility are as closely united in the righteous as are thanksgiving and prayer.—Those are the gloomiest times when the faithless not merely transgress the law of God, but seek to destroy it, and banish the word of revelation from the world.
STARKE: Thou must not depart from what is right on account of the friendship or enmity of the world, but must continue courageously therein in the duties of thy profession or calling.—It is ever true that the love of righteousness is attended by persecution; but it is also true that right will ever remain right.—Divine consolation can give far more joy than all calumnies can disturb.—Hope in a true believer is only the stronger and more steadfast, the longer divine help is delayed.—The mercy of God is not to be abused as an occasion for sin, but should urge us to the most strenuous efforts to fulfil the will of God in a holy life.—The longer we learn in God’s school, the more we become conscious of our yet remaining ignorance, and therefore long more for growth in knowledge.—He who will pray against his enemies must be more concerned about the hallowing of God’s name than about his own welfare.—Not to regard God’s word, but to act according to one’s own will, and to do all the works of the flesh, are sure presages of the impending judgments of God.—Thou wilt not be able to fulfil God’s law unless thou hast love. Love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:10).—God’s word must not be divided. If we hold the one portion, we must hold the other.
FRISCH: Dishonor done to God should concern thee more than disgrace or injury inflicted upon thyself in the world.—RIEGER: Let no pleasure or pain tear me from the love of God and of His word.—DIEDRICH: God so deals with his servants as to make them wise and make them His familiar friends (John 15:14 f.).—TAUBE: Earnest zeal for God is united in all saints with the deeply humble spirit of the publican.
[MATT. HENRY: Though our eyes fail, God’s word doth not; and therefore those that build upon it, though now discouraged, shall in due time see His salvation.—BP. HORNE: How ought a man to fear lest the next sin he commits should fill up his measure and seal his eternal doom!—BRIDGES: In a season of desertion, while we maintain a godly jealousy over our own hearts, let us beware of a mistrustful jealousy of God. Distrust will not cure our wound or quicken us to prayer, or recommend us to the favor of God, or prepare us for the mercy of the gospel. Complaining is not humility. Prayer without waiting is not faith.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:129–136. The greater the departure from God’s word, the more ardent the prayer for the diffusion of His light. The depth of love in the faithful is gauged by the depth of their sorrow for the fallen and deceived (Jer. 1:9; Luke 19:41; Phil. 3:18 f.).—Why should supplication for God’s merciful upholding never be permitted to cease among His servants?
STARKE: The more wonderful the things are which are contained in God’s word, the more time and diligence should be employed in apprehending, comprehending, learning and practising them. Many a troubled heart still experiences the wonderful power of the divine word, drawing from it consolation, joy and life.—The love of God is the true school in which to have the knowledge and mysteries of God.—A pious heart bewails not only its own sins, but also those of others.
FRANKE: The Holy Scriptures are a mine to which not merely the learned have a right, but which is opened to the whole world.—FRISCH: The madness and ruin of others should make us wise to esteem more highly the word of God, full, as it is, of precious secrets and wonders, a treasure-house stored with saving instruction and heart-enlivening consolation.—RIEGER: In the anguish of sin, God’s word whispers forgiveness to the heart and preserves us when tempted to new sins.—DIEDRICH: The greater our joy in God, the more intense is our suffering in the world.—TAUBE: It is just what is wonderful in God’s Scriptures, that the world stumbles at, but which attracts the single-hearted.
[MATT. HENRY: Then we may expect temporal blessings, when we have this in our eye, that we may serve God the better.—Comfort me with the light of Thy countenance on every dark and cloudy day. If the world frown upon me, yet do Thou smile.—The sins of sinners are the sorrows of saints; we must mourn for that which we cannot mend.—BRIDGES: It is the peculiar character of the Christian, that he is as earnest in his desires for deliverance from the power as from the guilt of sin.—BARNES: Nothing is more remarkable than that pious men ordinarily feel so little on account of the danger of their friends and fellow sinners.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:137–144. Love to God is the fountain of that zeal which seeks not its own advantage, but the honor of God, and consumes not others, but itself.—We cannot value the word of God at nearly its worth, nor praise it so much as it deserves of us.—The word of God has its value and power in this: it contains, reflects and holds forth to the apprehension of men God’s eternal righteousness, His infallible truth, and His unchangeable purity.
STARKE: God’s word is a clear mirror of the Divine righteousness, both in its promises and in its threatenings.—The preaching of the law is to be attended to, as well as the preaching of the gospel.—The Holy Scriptures, as they are the oldest, are also the plainest and the best book in the world.—What is best should ever be to us dearest, and above all, God and His word.—Humility, suffering, and fidelity in the ways of God, are infallible tokens of sincerity in religion.—If men believed from the heart, that all God’s words are nothing but truth, they would also seek to walk as children of the truth.—The children of the world glory in their great prosperity and riches; true Christians glory in their tribulations (2 Cor. 12:9).—Delight in God’s word overcomes all misfortunes.
FRISCH: If thou wouldst give a token that God is in thee, labor, with God-like zeal, against false doctrine and godless living.—TAUBE: Whatever God has ordained, kings and beggars are bound to obey, and he who disobeys, does it at his peril and to his own hurt; while he who obeys, enjoys a rich reward.—It is a blessed consequence of the world’s despite, and the wholesome fruit of all affliction, that the faith of the man who cleaves to God, becomes thereby more decided, his love to God more faithful and strong, and his delight in the word more intense (1 Cor. 4:12).
[MATT. HENRY: That which we are commanded to practice is righteous; that which we are commanded to believe is faithful.—BISHOP HORNE: Let our study be now in the Scriptures, if we expect our comfort from it in time to come. SCOTT: Happy are those who love the whole word of God, because of its purity and its purifying influence upon their hearts.—The law of God is the truth, the standard of holiness, and the rule of happiness.—BRIDGES: The most satisfactory evidence of our zeal as a Christian principle, is when it begins at home, in a narrow scrutiny and vehement revenge against the sins of our own hearts.—BARNES: He who can bear contempt on account of his opinions, can usually bear anything.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:145–152.—When danger increases, let not anxiety increase, but faith and prayer.—The assurance of being heard in prayer does not flow from our piety and zeal, but from God’s mercy and truth.—When persecutors draw near us, let us draw near to the Omnipresent God, and cast all our cares upon Him.
STARKE: God bestows Himself and His gifts only to praying souls. If these gifts are at all of importance to thee, never cease praying.—What does it help a man, that he knows the means of grace, God’s word, and prayer, and yet does not employ them?—If we neglect to do good, we very soon begin to do evil.—God proves that He is nigh His people, especially in times of persecution, and that by unexpected help and protection.—God’s word and promise have an eternal foundation, and therefore nothing earthly can overturn them.
RIEGER: The mercy and justice of God, announced and displayed in His word, are a staff of comfort.—DIEDRICH: God’s word has the power to make us pious and faithful; but it lies with ourselves to win from it a blessing.—TAUBE: The earnestness of our supplications may be tested, not only by the urgency of our cries, but also by the time when they are offered.
[MATT. HENRY: The more intimately we converse with the word of God, and the more we dwell upon it in our thoughts, the better able shall we be to speak to God in His own language, and the better we shall know what to pray for as we ought. Reading the word will not serve, but we must meditate upon it.—BRIDGES: Near as the Lord is to His people, to shield them from their enemies, is He not nearer still, when He dwells in their hearts?—BARNES: This conviction that God is near us, this manifestation of God to the soul, as a present God, is one of the most certain assurances to our own minds, of the truth of religion and of our acceptance with Him.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:153–160.—God’s dealings follow the rule of His righteousness, as the word of His truth testifies; and therefore He remains far from the despisers of His salvation, but vouchsafes the help of His mercy to those who crave it earnestly.
STARKE: It is already the beginning of deliverance when God regards us in mercy.—He who avenges himself robs God of His honor, and encroaches upon His prerogative; for vengeance is His.—All who remain sincerely and steadfastly by God’s word, find in Him a mighty Defender and strong Protector.—There is nothing more precious or helpful, than to approach God by laying hold upon His mercy; for then He can not pass thee by, He must grant to thee what thou dost by faith grasp so hard.—It is as difficult for the penitent in distress to avail themselves of God’s mercy with confidence, as it is easy for the ungodly to abuse it.—The victory of believers is gained by faith and patience in the word of God.—Sincere endeavors to fulfil God’s commands, and unchanging hatred of all that is ungodly, flow from ardent love to God’s word.—If God’s word is nothing but truth, the foundation of faith is immovable and no prayer will be lost.
FRISCH: Consider well among what manner of persons thou hast to live in this world. With respect to God, thou wilt find most to be despisers; with respect to themselves, lost, and far from salvation; with respect to thee, persecutors and foes.—We can trace here how the Psalmist’s turning to God, through the medium of His beloved word, becomes ever more tender; how he becomes ever more anxious to separate himself from the desperate condition of the ungodly, who throw away all hope of salvation by forsaking the judgments of God.—DIEDRICH: I cleave to Thy promise, nor will remain in any sin; and on such distress as mine, Thou must have compassion.—TAUBE: He who presents his plea to God’s mercy, ceases to boast of his own worthiness; and he who praises that mercy, has discovered the greatness of his guilt and his own inability.
[MATT. HENRY: A man that is steady in the way of his duties, though he may have many enemies, need fear none.—BRIDGES: As often as we feel the hindrance of straitened desires and heartless affections, let us repair to the loving-kindness of the Lord, as the overflowing fountain of life to the soul. Remember, to be “filled” is the promise. We have life, but oh, give it us more abundantly, as much as these houses of clay, as much as these earthen vessels can contain.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:161–168.—To love God’s word, to enjoy His peace, to wait for His salvation—this is the employment, reward, and joy of faith.—God’s word will profit him little who prefers the favor of princes to the mercy of God, and dreads their power more than he does God’s hand.
STARKE: The fear of God regards the eternal and does not depart from God’s word, even though life itself should be sacrificed; but the fear of man regards the temporal and prefers honor from men to honor from God.—As long as the heart is rent with restless desires, it cannot be called the peaceful dwelling of God.—In spiritual matters we must flee from all trifling fancies of men and hold fast to God’s word.—If we allow ourselves, wilfully or neglectfully, to commit venial sins, they grow deadly ones, which rob us of all our powers, of spiritual life itself.—The daily spiritual occupation of the Christian, is to endeavor to grow in love to God and His word, to become ever more faithful in striving after holiness, and to keep God’s commandments.—A believer loves both the Law and the Gospel. As the latter leads him to Christ and true faith, so the former urges him to a holy life.—If there is anything which can create holy impressions upon men’s minds, so as to influence them to leave wickedness and do good, it is surely the thought, apprehended by faith, of God’s omnipresence.
FRANKE: If our hearts are temples of the Holy Ghost, we will no longer keep counting up our times of praising God, but from those hearts, as from an altar of thanksgiving, the flame of devotion and love will unceasingly ascend in fervent praise to Him.—FRISCH: If thou dost retain God’s word in thy heart, it will be to thee instead of the richest spoil, and in outward disquietude, thou mayst encourage thyself with inward peace in God.—DIEDRICH: To men of the world, the word of God is harsh, over-strict, and difficult, but to us, it is the highest delight; and our dread is lest, amid the temptations of the enemy, we may through unfaithfulness and indolence, depart from it.—TAUBE: The praise of God and the peace of God, are the legitimate consequences of a sanctified life.
[MATT. HENRY: The more we see of the amiable beauty of truth, the more we shall see of the detestable deformity of a lie.—They that love the world have great vexation, for it does not answer their expectations; they that love God’s word have great peace, for it outdoes their expectations.—BISHOP HORNE: Christ alone kept the old law, and He enableth us to observe the new.—BRIDGES: Conscious unworthiness may give a trembling feebleness to the hand of faith, but the weakest apprehension of one of the least of the gospel promises, assures of our interest in them all.—Why may we not set all the fulness of the covenant before the weakest believer, as well as before the strongest, and proclaim to both, with equal freedom, the triumphant challenge: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?”—How beautiful is that spirit which not only longs for holiness as the way to heaven, but loves heaven better for the holy way that leads to it, and for the perfect holiness that reigns there eternally.—BARNES: Religion is essentially voluntary, and the times of secret devotion must also be voluntary; and therefore a man can easily determine, by his own secret devotion, whether he has any peculiar interest, at any particular time, in religion, or whether he has any religion at all.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 119:169–176.—Thanksgiving for the hearing of prayer emboldens to renewed supplication, and opens the way for new blessings.—The faithfulness of God our Shepherd the cause of our salvation, and the perpetual subject of our prayers and thanksgiving.
STARKE: As ingratitude stops the fountain of the Divine mercy, so gratitude opens it.—Is it not because men are ashamed of God and His word before others, that there are so very few conversations on Divine things?—The more God’s word is read and heard, the more consolation does it impart, like those odoriferous plants and spices, which, the more they are bruised, give forth the sweeter perfume.—The soul cannot praise God if it does not live, and no praise is pleasing to God, unless it comes from a soul which lives in Him.—Whenever a man fancies he is better than others, and belongs to a higher type of Christianity, he soon loses all the good he once had.—The whole of religion is comprised in three things, namely: a true knowledge of the misery of sin, an earnest striving to gain redemption, and a genuine amendment of life according to the precepts of God’s word.—LUTHER: A Christian is not in being, but in becoming; his life is not piety, but a becoming pious; not health, but convalescence; not rest, but exercise; we are not yet, we are only to be; with us there is no completion, but only progress and ceaseless action; we are not at the goal, but upon the way.—FRANKE: The cause of the feebleness in religion, which many manifest, is that they soon leave off praying, if God does not hear at once.—The sinful lusts, which are against God’s commandment, contend also against our souls, and slay us if we persist in them.—DIEDRICH: Let me but understand Thy word truly, and then come what will.—TAUBE: Poverty of spirit is the beginning and the end of the life of grace.—It was I that strayed and was lost; it was Thou that didst seek and find and keep.
[MATT. HENRY: They that pray for God’s grace, must aim at God’s glory.—We are apt to wander like the sheep, and very unapt, when we wander, to find the way again.—Lord, own me for one of them, for, though I am a stray sheep, I have Thy mark. Concern Thyself for me; send after me by the word and conscience and providence; bring me back by Thy grace.—Thus he concludes the Psalm, with a penitent sense of his own sin, and a believing dependence on God’s grace. With these a devout Christian will conclude his duties, will conclude his life; he will live and die repenting and praying.—BISHOP HORNE: Restore us, oh Lord Jesus, by Thy grace to righteousness, and by Thy power to glory!—BRIDGES: The life of prayer is the cry of the heart to God. The eloquence of prayer is its earnestness. The power of prayer is the spirit of supplication.—J. F. M.]
[This mode of viewing the verse, which I do not find in any of the other expositors, and which is certainly preferable to the common one, illustrates the critical sagacity of its author, which, together with his exquisite judgment, is in none of his writings better illustrated than in his masterly treatment of this Psalm throughout. It may not be out of place here to call attention to a misconception widely prevalent with regard to his Commentary, that it is very little more than an abridgement of that of Hengstenberg. Numerous instances of disagreement between them are to be found in the additions to this volume, and many more would be observed in a comparison of the two works. The modesty of Dr. Alexander’s preface has misled many with regard to this point; but his Exposition is an evidence of the independence as well as of the power which characterized everything that he wrote.—J. F. M.]
[The name applied to Jewish poetry after the 8th Cent. It is evidently derived from the Greek. See ETHERIDGE, Hebrew Literature, pp. 367 ff.—J. F. M.]
ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.